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December 4, 2023

Holiday Shopping Guide: Tips, Tricks & Links for Everyone on Your List

Post By:
Stacey Kovalsky
In-House Contributor
Vice President, Global PR & Communications
USPA Global | U.S. Polo Assn.
Guest Contributor:

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes both the excitement and the stress of gift-giving. As much as we may try, it's not uncommon to find ourselves searching for last-minute gifts for friends and family in the final hour. While it can seem daunting, there are plenty of thoughtful gift options and great deals to snag for the holidays. Here are some shopping tips as well as ideas for unique and meaningful gifts for everyone on your list this season.

1. Online Shopping: Your Savior

Online shopping has become a lifeline for last-minute gift hunters and early birds alike. It offers a vast array of choices and the convenience of shopping from your own home. With all the perks of online shopping, finding the perfect gifts for friends and family has never been easier. However, there are a few tricks of the trade when it comes to ecommerce.

When shopping online, here are some tips everyone should know:

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Shop Early in the Day: Many online retailers restock their inventory in the morning. This means you're more likely to find what you're looking for if you shop early in the day.

Choose Expedited Shipping and Check Shipping Deadlines: Most online stores offer expedited shipping options. While it may be more expensive, it ensures your gifts arrive on time. Be aware of shipping deadlines to make sure your gifts will arrive before the holidays. Look for the fine print on delivery dates so you know when your item will be delivered and what you will be charged. These deadlines are typically listed on the retailer's website. If not, you can always call to ask just to be sure.

Consider E-Gift Cards: If you just simply ran out of time, it’s okay. e-Gift cards are a quick and thoughtful option! You can personalize them with a heartfelt message and let your loved ones choose their own gifts.

2. Personalized Gifts: Thoughtful Touches

Personalized gifts show that you've put thought and effort into your present. Here are some personalized gift ideas:

Customized Jewelry: Engraved necklaces, bracelets, or rings with initials or special dates can make for cherished keepsakes. BaubleBar offers both affordable and beautiful personalized gifts for everyone on your list.

Photo Gifts: Create custom photo books, calendars, or canvas prints filled with memories you've shared with your loved ones.

Monogrammed Items: Monogrammed towels, blankets, or even kitchenware add a touch of elegance and thoughtfulness to your gift. Mark & Graham is one of my go-to’s and it’s easy to click right on their Gift Guide. And, they even have the perfect gift for your furry best friend in their Holiday Pet Shop. Get Fidos name emblazoned on his little cable knit sweater, but don’t wait too long for customization!

3. Subscription Services: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Subscription services are a wonderful way to give the gift of ongoing joy and surprises. Consider these options:

Streaming Services: Gift a subscription to a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ for a plethora of entertainment. The recipient will think of you all year long!

Meal Kit Delivery: Have that family member who is just learning to cook or would appreciate the ease of having all ingredients delivered right to their door? Subscription meal kits like Blue Apron or HelloFresh can be a fun and practical gift for food enthusiasts.

Beauty Boxes: Subscription boxes like Birchbox or Ipsy deliver a monthly selection of beauty and skincare products. Birchbox has themes like wellness, makeup and beauty and even has an interactive group chat and a blog for ideas.

4. Shop Small, Shop Local: Unique Finds

Sometimes, the best gifts are found right in your own community. Local shops and artisans often offer unique and meaningful gifts, plus they are closeby and easy to find:

Artisanal Food and Drink: Explore local breweries, wineries, or gourmet food stores online or in store for unique culinary gifts. They typically have expedited shipping.

Handcrafted Jewelry: Local jewelers may have one-of-a-kind pieces that your loved ones will treasure. 

Vintage or Antique Shop Treasures: There’s always at least one friend or family member who will truly cherish a vintage gift.

5. Experiential Gifts: Create Wonderful Memories

Consider giving the gift of experiences rather than physical items. These can create lasting memories.

Concert Tickets: Purchase tickets to a concert or show that your friend or loved one has been wanting to see. Either get two tickets for them or plan to go with them!

Spa Day: Treat them to a relaxing spa day or massage to unwind from the holiday stress.

Cooking Class: Sign up for a cooking or baking class you can take together. So many restaurants host these now, as well as places like Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma.

6. Fashion and Accessories: Elevate Their Style

For the Fashionista: Splurge on designer luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, or Prada. For the price, these shops are ready and willing to wrap beautifully on demand, and ship quickly! I also love Resale sites like The RealReal, Fashionphile and Rebag. Some of the items on these sites are even new with tags and great deals. Plus, you are helping the environment by reuse. For the friend with the beautiful closet or the world traveler, why not gift Protect My Shoes so she can fill her stunning shoes with beauty and keep them in shape for travel. Another perfect stocking stuffer!

Stylish Watches: Watches are always a great gift and the best news is there is truly a watch for everyone. Virtually every brand has a watch, from U.S. Polo Assn. to Fossil to Gucci. When you are out shopping, don’t forget to look in the watch cases for the extra add-on for the person you just can’t quite figure out. 

Cozy Winter Wear: Keep them warm and stylish. For the holidays, the perfect gift for absolutely everyone is always cashmere. For women, check out this beautiful Mongolian Cashmere Sweater and for men, the perfect lightweight Men's Cashmere Hoodie, both from Quince. There’s also cashmere socks, wraps and beanies.

Customizable Shoes and Sneakers: Create unique sneakers with personalized colors and designs. Converse offers this service and Crocs also has customizable options. These are hot-hot-hot for the season and despite being customized, still ship fast.

7. Eco-Friendly Gifts: Sustainable and Thoughtful

Reusable Products: Choose from eco-friendly items like reusable water bottles from Nantucket Whaler, shopping bags, or bamboo toothbrushes for a cute stocking stuffer.

Plant a Tree: Consider gifting a tree planting certificate from organizations like One Tree Planted.

Solar-Powered Gadgets: Opt for solar-powered chargers for teens, a Solar Powered Lantern and Book Bundle for kids from Kiwi Co., or the Solar Photography Kit for anyone 12 and up from Uncommon Goods.

Sustainable Fashion: Shop for clothing made from sustainable materials and ethical practices like Patagonia, Reformation, Quince and People Tree, which is woman owned.

8. Charitable Gifts: Give Back to the Community

Donate to Charities in their Honor: If you know someone would appreciate it, or doesn’t necessarily need yet another scented candle or pair of socks, why not make a donation in their name to a charity or cause they care deeply about?

Fair Trade Gifts: There are so many opportunities to purchase fair trade products that support artisans in developing countries. Personally, I love fair trade chocolate and jewelry. Here’s a list of some of the best, recognized fair trade chocolates.

Animal Adoption or Sponsorship: Sponsor an animal in need or adopt one from a local animal shelter. This is my favorite because I am a huge animal lover myself and support several local rescues. A few of my favorites are S.H.A.R.E Shepherd Rescue, the Humane Society of Broward County, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, and of course high risk shelters like Miami Dade Animal Control. More national organizations include The Gentle Barn and Best Friends Animal Society.

Volunteer Experiences: Some very special family or friends may appreciate it if you arranged a volunteer opportunity for them to give back to their community. In fact, this is also something great you could do with your children. There are so many worthy organizations in need in the Florida tri-county area and of course, beyond.

Spread Warmth & Joy Without Stress

Don’t forget, the holiday season is meant to be a time of joy, celebration with family, and giving. Finding gifts for the holidays this year doesn't have to be a stressful experience. With online shopping, subscription services, local shopping, and experiential gifts, you can always find something thoughtful that will spread warmth and joy to your loved ones this season. Remember, it's the thought and effort that count the most, and a well-chosen gift, no matter when you find it, can convey your love and appreciation during this special time of year. Happy gifting!